Players began to cluster like grapes around blue resin tables in the cafeteria of the indoor multi-sport arena.
The air was thick with the smell of rubber and rotten corn chips beneath the blaring institutional lights on a cold winter afternoon.
My son leaned into his soccer teammates, talking texting, scrolling, and tapping like they do when they get into their little sewing circle. I hesitated, then stood up from my seat and took a step towards him. James sensed my movement and looked at me with horror. He shook his head no and waved his hand.
Clearly, I would not be welcomed with open arms to his tribe.
I averted my eyes and sank into the stiff chair, feeling ignored, lonely, and sad. I saw other parents sitting with their teenagers. Why can’t I sit with my kid? Was he embarrassed by me? I didn’t have to come and watch, you know.
I wanted to scream at the injustice, and then thought better of it. I came with a sore throat, body aches and throbbing head. And now my ego was bruised.
I know I shouldn’t take it personally and make crazy assumptions, but all I wanted was to go home, curl up on the couch and cry.
I could leave James behind because he drove himself to the tournament, having passed his driver’s test only days earlier. With each passing moment, his independence and confidence grows, while I mourn the loss of his childhood.
This progression towards adulthood is supposed to happen, I tell myself. It will be okay. He is self-reliant, but still needs my love, guidance and support. He just doesn’t need it all at once, right this minute.
And so I take a deep breath, exhale, brush away a tear and wait until the next game begins.
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